What makes a great chef according to José Andrés?

What a great chef is — it’s very difficult, right? Because, is the chef the businessman? You know, many times people ask me, “Jose, you are not in the restaurant and the food is good, and the other day you were in the restaurant … ” The food is going to be as good if I am in the restaurant or if I am not, because the same people are cooking it. The chef is maybe at the top of the pyramid. I do have a whole bunch of people that are really the ones making it happen every day. To me, it’s almost insulting when someone says, “Well, the chef is not in the restaurant.” It’s amazing professionals, not only my restaurant group, but all across America and all across the world.

So a great chef will be a person that — if I was cooking every dish I serve, it would be about me, and whether I’m good or I’m not. Do I have the nose, do I have the palate, do I have the technique? But I am within a team, and I don’t see myself at the top of the pyramid actually; I see myself across the team.

So the great chef today will be one that is able to express himself through all this. So that means that you have to believe in your team. That means that you have to train them, to teach them spiritually as much as technically, physically. If you do both things well, you may have good restaurants. But the question of what a great chef is very complex.

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